One of my favorite anecdotes about creating content comes from Dolly Parton. She has said something to the effect that she has written 5,000 songs on her way to writing 5 hits. Now, I like to think that she’s got a few more than 5 when it comes to hits.
But her point should hit home with every content creator. Including bloggers.
No matter what you’re doing – blogging, video, podcast, etc. – you’re going to have the odds stacked against you. If you’re starting from scratch, the odds are really stacked against your for awhile.
But don’t let that stop you. And even when you reach a point where you’re creating some good content, don’t beat yourself up when you create something subpar.
Here are some tips for coping with a “bad” piece of content.
1. What went wrong?
Dolly Parton could look at all of those songs that didn’t work out as failures. But I have a feeling that at least on some level she looks at them as lessons. Just the work you have to put in to learn a craft. It’s like any other skill in life. You put in the time to learn it whether it’s hours reading or listening to a lecture, or doing it yourself and figuring it out.
Let’s say you created a blog post or a video that got some negative feedback or that simply hit like a thud when you published it. You can get upset. At yourself. At the audience. At whatever. But once that subsides, take the time to analyze what went wrong. Look for big things and little things that could have led to the non-hit piece of content.
And if you are publishing regularly you’ll likely have multiple pieces that don’t do well and you can look for patterns.
2. What went well?
On the flip side, look for things that went well. This is partly about raising your spirts. There is usually something good to take from just about anything. I’m sure that Dolly had one or two great lines in some of her songs that she didn’t feel were hits. I’m sure she had a great melody on a song that maybe she felt didn’t have a great lyric.
I remember reading a random story about Kid Rock and Bob Seger awhile back. Kid Rock played Seger a new song. Bob loved the melody, but thought that Kid Rock had ruined or wasted it with a lyric that wasn’t very good. So Bob went away and wrote his own lyrics for the tune and Kid Rock eventually released both versions.
Even when you fail there are likely some things that were positive that can boost your spirits and to better content in the future.
3. Was it in your variance?
Something I’m learning about in the golfing world is that every golfer has a variance in their shots. Even the pros rarely hit it exactly where they want. The best pros, including Tiger Woods, understand that they will hit it within a certain range, their variance. So they aim kind of in the middle of that and accept the results.
Say they have a fairway that is 60 yards wide. For a pro, they will hit that fairway 90% of the time over a million shots. All things basic, they basically aim down the middle and accept that they may hit it in the middle or slightly left or right. They don’t really know what will happen.
But they accept it.
With creating content it’s kind of the same thing. You have a variance to your success and performance. You can work to improve your variance, but assess where you are, what number of pieces are good and what are bad and accept when something falls into that variance.
4. Does your routine need adjusting?
Another thing to assess if you’re on a string of subpar content is your routine. You can set a good routine today and stick with it fairly well for a few months. But no matter how good we are things start to creep into our habits and routines.
So it’s good to audit what you’re doing every day so you can make changes. Maybe somewhere in the recent past you started doing something different in your creation process. Find out what it is and go back to the fundamentals so you can get back on the right track.
5. People will forgive you.
Deep down it seems that most people know that we’re all imperfect. We know that others are going to create a lot of subpar things in life. We let things slide. Nobody was really telling Dolly Parton to stop writing songs if she was on a run where maybe she wasn’t having hits. And even if some where, who cares about them. They’ll be back the moment she creates another smash hit.
So I like to focus on that. People will love your future hits. They will forgive and forget anything from your past if you’re able to move past it and continue to do great work.
So why not try?
You’re going to create bad content. That comes with the territory. And really, content is subjective anyway. One person is always going to like what you create while another person absolutely hates it. That’s part of the game if you’re going to get into it.
Don’t beat yourself up too bad over it. Keep moving forward. Keep looking for the next hit.